Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Lovers and Legends, #8
Release Date: January 01, 2020
Sir Reynold Warstone is rich, powerful, calculating and deadly. He has been playing a game with his enemies for years, a game he plans to win, he has no time or room in his life for relationships, books are his only friends and his plan to annihilate his enemies his only dream. Currently, he is in Paris, awaiting information before making his next move, when a servant demands an audience. Reynold is surprised by the gall of the woman, but hears her out – she has a child with her, a child named Grace who she claims is Reynold’s and she says she can prove it. Reynold doesn’t believe her until she takes him to see the mother – a woman he did in fact sleep with when he was last in Paris – almost two years ago. Reynold takes the child, her mother is dead and the servant dispatched, but he doesn’t know what to do – a child is a liability in the game, but he can’t seem to let her go. He takes her back to his home and sees a woman being taken by the guard in the market – she has hair the color of Grace’s and a plan is hatched – he will have his men save the woman from the guard, employ her in his home and have her claim Grace is her child.
Aliette is a homeless woman on the streets, but she is not alone, since being abandoned by her family 15 years ago, she has learned to survive and had created a new family, a family she provides for and protects. When she learns that Gabriel, a young orphan she has taken under her wing has stolen bread, she knows this will mean trouble. She tells Gabriel as well as an elderly couple she has taken in – Helewise and Vernon – that she will return the bread and try to work for the baker to pay for the damage. When she tries to return the bread the baker calls for the guard and brands her a thief – but when Reynold’s men claim her, the baker changes his claims and instead begins to toady to her. Aliette doesn’t understand what is going on, the men don’t talk to her and refuse to let her go. When she is brought before Reynold, she demands to be released, he makes it clear, she is his captive and she will care for the child. Unable to leave, Aliette worries for her family, but refuses to tell Reynold anything about herself or them.
When Reynold glimpses her getting out the bath, he knows he is in trouble, he doesn’t even know her name, but he knows he will not be letting her go – ever. Aliette is attracted to him as well, but neither trusts the other – they haven’t even exchanged names – she calls him Sir and Darkness and he calls her Thief. She doesn’t give him any information, but cares for Grace and slowly begins to trust Reynold – not completely, but more than she has anyone in a very long time. He in turn seems to run hot and cold with her, teaching her to read and admiring her, but pushing her away whenever she starts to get too close. Finally, he lets her venture outside the walls of his compound with a guard, a man named Louve who has been with him the longest and who acts as if he is Reynold’s friend. Louve knows she is hiding something and when he learns of her “family” he lets her go to them. She promises to return and they fall into a routine, until one day when Reynold follows and learns her secret. He takes in her whole family and makes it clear that she is not leaving him. But trust is a problem between these two and secrets may do far worse than keep them apart and steal their HEA – they might kill them.
I have been waiting for Reynold’s story since his introduction in The Knight’s Scarred Maiden and he was well worth the wait!!! The chemistry between Reynold and Aliette is apparent from their first interaction, they are clearly meant to be, but they both have scars and have both been betrayed by those who should have loved them in the past, for Reynold the threat of death is daily and he has survived by keeping himself apart from everyone, but Aliette (and Grace) makes him want things he has only imagined, things he hasn’t allowed himself to dream of. I did get a little frustrated with both Reynold and Aliette at times, especially when it seemed like they began to trust but clearly didn’t and clung to their secrets instead of opening themselves up to each other. But in the end, they figure it out and have a very sweet declaration scene. The love scenes are sparse and warmish, but the sexual tension is strong from their first meeting and never dies. I love how this story wrapped up giving the reader closure for Reynold and Aliette, but a sneak peek of stories to come for the reader! I. CANNOT. WAIT!!!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me.*